Monday, December 28, 2009

Goborillas, or, Zilchus greasy palm! That's the hairiest goblin I've ever seen!


Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 6-36
Armor Class: 6, (or by armor type)
Move: 10"(100 feet), Rush: 16"(160 feet), once in a combat.
Hit Dice: 3
% in lair: 40%
Treasure Type: L, C, Q, X.
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attack: 2-8 or by weapon, +2 damage with weapon.
Special Attacks: Rending if attacking without a weapon, (1-8 extra points of damage on a hit)
Special Defenses: Nil
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Lawful Neutral, (tending toward evil)
Size: M, (6' tall, 300 lbs)
Psionic Ability: Nil

Vague and conflicting tales are told concerning the origins of the militaristic goborillas. Some hold that they result from ship wrecked goblins joining with the great gorilla tribes of the Green Fever, others say goblin pack-ape trainers trapped below ground became somewhat too close to their beasts. A cursed artifact, a vindictive Godling, and the usual mad wizard are also blamed.

Though they may be entertaining tavern talk, the truth of these tales is unknown, and also largely irrelevant to any who find themselves facing the war-like goborillas.

Well organized, disciplined and orderly, the militant goborillas appear to be few in number. There are rumors that this is a subterfuge, that great numbers of the creatures drill constantly in the barracks-caverns they have bored through the jungle shrouded tepuis of the south lands.
Some also say the creatues are unfolding a great battle plan that will see them shuffle-march out of the south one day to beat their chests and roar over the ruins of civilization.

Few who meet with the goborillas ever return, so, the facts of the matter are uncertain.

Settlements of other races which intrude on territory claimed by the goborillas are always destroyed without warning. Usually in the dead of night. There are never survivors, or else, the survivors are taken away to a mysterious fate.

Goborillas are powerful creatures, appearing to be either ape-like and very hairy goblinoids, or malignant gorillas with goblinish features. They normally march on their feet like men, but are capable of moving with great speed for a short time by knuckle running as do the great apes.

They are normally encountered in multiples of six. This is the standard squad the soldierly goborillas deploy.
Each squad is commanded by a Silverback. Silverbacks will have 1 extra hit die and carry a two handed cleaving sword, (2d8 dmg).
The other goborillas of the squad will carry scimitars, staff-slings, powerful short bows, pole arms and darts or javelins.
There is a 50% chance of some sort of armor, usually some sort of splint armor. The making of mail is beyond the goborillas skill.

* The pic I clipped out of a Tarzan story illustrated by the mighty Richard Corben.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Viviomancer Magic-User Subclass. Life and death are not manipulated without consequence.

The Viviomancer: an AD&D Magic-User Sub-Class.
The Viviomancers are a sub-class of magic-users which are wholly devoted to Life Magic. This being spells and magic items which affect living things only in a manner which is positive, or neutral.
Viviomancers, also sometimes called vivomancers, deal only in magic which heals, cures, enhances, and strengthens. Or with magic which modifies living things in a manner that is beneficial, or at the least non-malignant. The school of Viviomancy is grounded in the theory that the energy of life, which is called Vivir, can be increased, manipulated and directed by magic.
Viviomancers can cast any spells common to general magic-users which fall within these boundaries. They also have a body of spells which are endemic to the class and unavailable to non-viviomancers. The majority of viviomantic magic draws its power from the positive plane.
A viviomancer may only cast direct damage dealing spells in self defense or in situations where the use of force to defend others is justified.

Viviomancers must always be of good alignment.

Vivomancers have D6 for hit points.

Viviomancers may not wear armor heavier than leather.

Viviomancers are limited to the standard allowable weapons common to all magic-users.

Humans, elves, half-elves, and gnomes may become viviomancers.

The practice of viviomancy is the study of the connection between life, magic, and all living things. Whether the philosophy is instilled in them by the teachers of a viviomantic order, or they arrive at the belief due to the preponderance of the evidence revealed to them by the working of viviomantic magic itself, viviomancers understand and feel deeply the interconnectedness of all living things.

This means that the first rule of the viviomancer is to do no harm in the practice of viviomancy.
This does not mean that the viviomancer is a pacifist or unwilling to defend himself. It means that killing is a last resort, and that spells that are viviomantic in nature must never be used to cause harm.

The great power of magic of the viviomantic school must be managed with care and forethought. Self-knowledge and humility are necessary in one who controls the magic of life and death. A viviomancer of uncertain character or conviction may eventually be overcome by hubris, becoming arrogant and self-worshiping.
Such a viviomancer is in danger of, “falling”, in a sense similar to the way a paladin might fail his faith. A viviomancer who falls may become a generalist magic-user, or even a necromancer.

Though viviomancers have access to many magics of a healing nature, their spells are not divinely given as are those of a cleric or priest, but are born of the study of magic as are the spells of any other magic-user. Viviomancers are likely to venerate a god or gods of healing, magic, or nature, but receive no special compensation by it.

Normal animals are likely to react as positively to the presence of a viviomancer as they would to a druid. The exposure to life magics gives them an aura of calm benevolence. This also results in a bonus to viviomancers reaction adjustment score of +5% per level.

Viviomancers go adventuring in order to acquire new spells, fulfill the conditions of their apprenticeship, gain needed spell components, raise the money needed to build viviomanticums, or any of the myriad other reasons which cause people to risk their lives facing the unknown.

Viviomancers are by nature opposed to necromancy and necromancers. A viviomancer is likely to be quite tolerant of the foibles of others, looking away from thefts which serve the greater good and victimless crimes. They will, however, never willingly ally with those who employ death magic.

Viviomancer spells.
The spells of the viviomancers include many of the standard spells of magic-users, along with their own versions of many cleric spells, and a large roster of spells which only they can employ.
Though they can use spells which directly cause damage, they do so with a penalty, and only as a last resort. Spells which cause damage dice per level to a foe, such as fireball, lightening bolt, etc, do 50% less damage when cast by a viviomancer. Conversely, magic items which heal wounds or cure disease will increase in effectiveness by 25% when wielded by a viviomancer.

Below is a list of spells from the lists of magic-users, clerics, and druids which viviomancers have versions of for levels 1-3.

1st level.
Cure light wounds, Purify Food & Drink, Resist Cold, Charm Person, Enlarge(living things only), Find Familiar, Jump, Animal Friendship, Invisibility to Animals, Message, Sleep.

2nd level.
Detect Invisibility, ESP, Forget, Invisibility, Ray of enfeeblement, Scare, Strength, Hold Person, Know Alignment, Resist Fire, Slow Poison, Speak with Animals, Barkskin, Create Water, Feign Death.

3rd level.
Blink, Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, Fly, Haste, Infravision, Slow, Suggestion, Water Breathing, Cure Blindness, Cure Disease, Remove Curse, Hold Animal, Neutralize Poison, Plant Growth, Summon Insects.

Spells of the viviomantic school of magic include such dweomers as;

The Marvelous Diagnosticator; of Gregorious Dwelling which reveals to the viviomancer the cause and cure of any ailment, poison or disease.

Strengthen the Senses: One of the recipient’s senses is heightened to super human levels for one turn per level of the caster. The recipient gains the vision of an eagle, the scenting ability of a hound, bat-like hearing, etc

The Hand of Life: By touch, undead must save or be instantly reduced to ash. Those who save take 1d4 dmg per level of the caster.

Increased potential: One of the recipient’s ability scores is raised to its maximum possible for their race for 3 rounds per level of the caster.

Maximized Potential: All of the recipients stats are raised to the max possible for a period of 3 rounds per level of the caster. Both recipient and caster lose 1 hit die of hit points at the end of the spell duration.

Defer Sleep: Recipient may go without sleep for a number of days equal to his constitution score.

Defer Food & Water: Recipient may go without eating or drinking for a number of days equal to his constitution score.

Bolster Vitality: Adds 1 hit die roll to recipient per level of the caster for a period of 4 turns.

This is as far as I’ve gotten with the viviomancer so far. The idea is a magic-user subclass which absorbs the healer class and also has a broader portfolio to work with. I myself have no problems with the cleric, I like a little righteous smiting, but I’ve seen many gamers want a healer without the godly baggage.

The viviomancer is my attempt to create a class that covers that base, but has some logical reason for being, rather than just existing to play the field medic.

I haven’t worked out a full spell list, or decided how to modifiy each of the standard spells usable by the class yet, but I thought I’d put this out there and see what you fine fellows and ladies think.

I didn’t have the time to fine tune this like I did the Alchaemist or the Friar, but I think it’s a good start and I enjoyed working it up.
The holidays are exhausting, what with family and travel and whatnot, and I’m glad to get the chance to fiddle with The Game again.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I share Alchaemical Correspondence.

A little while ago, I posted a character class for AD&D called the Alchaemist. It's a magic-user subclass devoted to physical magic, magic captured in potions, dust, powders, etc.

A blog reader sent me an email with his groups version of the Alchaemist, and I thought he had some great ideas. I've been meaning to continue with an update of the Alchaemist, but the time just hasn't been available.
Since I planned to include alot of the ideas in his email into my own enlargement of the class, I'm going to quote here, with Reagan's kind permission, the emails he sent me.

I've also included the pics he sent me of a model of the moathouse from the Temple of Elemental Evil that one of his players built for the game.

I have to say here that I'm jealous of Reagan's players. Usually it's the DM who has to do all the work and preparation for a game. Having a player so into the game that he devotes the time to build a model of this quality reflects well on all involved.

Here is some of the first email Reagan sent me.

"First of all, congratulations on a most excellent blog. There are a great number of clever, and inspiring posts within, and your use of language often harkens back to the way Gygax himself wrote. I wish I could write in that way!
In any case, attached is a different version of the lovely Alchaemist class you posted. It is still very close to the original, but leans a bit closer to chemist than magic-user in a few ways. As for the formula, I tried to use OSRIC/1E spells to gauge power level equivalency, and, in a few cases, directly lifted effects. I’ve tried to combine a few spell effects or alter them in ways that makes the formulae different, and often equivalent to the spell in question; in this way, one would hope, there would be a use for both the potion and the spell in the same adventure. We’ve only gone through level 3 thus far, but I have a few ideas for some formulae past 3. Luckily, the alchemist player character in my game is not nearly high enough to cast those un-created spells yet. In my game we use the low-magic healing rules at Beyond the Black Gate, so many of the healing poultices come from there.

Your formula ‘Prul’s Eraser’ was quite a boon; it inspired us to create our own set of revered Master Alchemists, each with his own particular quirks and fetishes, much in the same way that magic-users have their Mordenkainen, Otto, Tenser and Melf-created spells. They are:

· Jorderchar - who focuses on potions to aid the summoning of demons, devils, and ectoplasmic things

· Prul - who prefers to mix his potions into a variety of alcoholic beverages, has a fascination for writing and language

· Garnak - enjoys manipulating gases and finding ways to use alchaemy to improve alchaemical processes (like the 3rd edition concept of meta-magic)

· Megnammon - an evil necromancer

· Dimo - a version of Indiana Jones if he were an alchaemist; his mixtures (typically pastes) help people explore, navigate, and survive the dangers inherent in dungeons and other dark, mysterious, and ancient places

· Drasar – an alchaemist who focuses on manipulating the four elements; he has a childish sense of humor and likes to name his formulae in comedic ways, especially in reference to bodily fluids

· Scifres – this is a magic-user player character in my 1E game who is going to be re-worked into an alchemist for the next session. His character is fascinated by the necromantic side of things, and has an unhealthy fixation on Megnammon, his hero. Scifres’ formulae are initially intended to be necromantic in nature, but often he creates a number of formulae that are inherently worthless, or useful only in certain specific situations.

One thing that I have yet to do is work up a nice, loose set of rules for the harvesting of alchemical ingredients from slain creatures. The idea of a Herbert West-type D&D character carving into the slain Naga to retrieve its still-warm vomeronasal gland is too good to pass up.
I apologize for any grammatical of formatting errors contained within the spreadsheet; it is indeed late and I think I got most of them! Also, in combining all the various tables and paragraph chunks, I might have left something out, so please let me know if something seems amiss. I look forward to seeing what you come up with next for the Alchemist; I may have a bit of a playtest report to get back to you after our next session on the 14th.
Keep up the fantastic work!

There are so many good ideas in this, it irks me that I haven't had the time to really chew over my own Alchaemist expansions. A group of famous master alchaemists is just what was thinking of myself.


One of Reagan's players decided to convert his magic-user over to an Alchaemist and sent him this list of ideas for fleshing out the character's abilities and formulations.

"I was wondering if I could have some additional mundane items that would have little game effect, other than just role-playing the mystique of being an alchemist.

I figure these could be mundane dusts, oils, salves, etc that are produced at little cost from the occasional rare find..."oh hey, here is some fairy wing residue, I can mix up some Flash-pellets":

· Everrose Salve - a sweet smelling oil that is rubbed lightly under nose to ward off unpleasant odors (exploring a city sewer or foul-smelling dungeon). Will not protect against stinking cloud or other like affects.

· Glitterstrike Dust - a faint ash that sparkles as it falls lightly to the ground. Will remain airborn for a few moments, and if drawn in a small arc through the air, it will carry a flame from one end to another...suitable for lighting a candle, lantern, torch or pipe from about 12 inches away. Unlikely to light large fires (oil, campfire, etc)

· Fermanist Rootdrops - changes the flavor of any beverage to cinnamon, also enhances color.

· Everstink Poultice - horrible smelling oil/tar, will not wash off for several days. Absolutely repulsive to dogs, but won't impair their tracking.

· Darkblade Tar - a slick grayish tar that keeps blades from reflecting light (may provide a +2% hide in shadows for a rogue). while slightly irritating to skin and organs, and may produce a strong burning, does not do damage

· Water Pellet - a grainy blue dust that can be sprinkled over any water-based liquid (water, ale, holy water, but not oil) and immediately absorbs said liquid, forming a small pellet that can be stored. A strong impact (hammer strike, dropped onto stone floor) causes the pellet to release the stored water. One application is good for the equivalent of a pitcher of ale or water.
· Scifres Heating Reagent - an oil that heats any metal when applied and exposed to air for 1 round. Metal becomes uncomfortable to the touch, but will not impair, for example, ability to wield a dagger or shield.

Other items, varying level:
· (1) Firemaster - essentially the same as affect normal fires, a mixture that will either increase or snuff out fires. Very useful and a precursor to mastering elemental potions of all kinds.

· (1) Fjiorhall Fumes - wide-body potion with a thin neck and stopper is inhaled through the mouth. Grants additional 2d4 hp for 10 minutes. Also tends to increase anger and irritablility for several hours after comsuming. Damage incurred to bonus life is not temporary, and death is possible when affects end.

· (1) Inferior Regeneration - regenerates 1d6 hp at 1hp per round. Can be consumed with other regeneration brews without fear of cross contamination, but stays in the system for several hours after effects wear off and will certainly cross-contaminate with any other potion consumed during this time.

· (2) Ruckhuster Brew - unpleasant tasting, chunky, frothy mixture consumed hot. Will delay poison effects for a brief period. Useful for buying time to analyze poisons and preparing antidote.

· (2) Magnetic Salve - this thick salve is stored in two phials with an activator stored in a third phial. When mixed with the activator, the two salves become magnetically opposed to each other, regardless of substance and distance. Distance is controlled by amount applied and weight of opposing objects. One application is sufficient to levitate 100 lbs/alchemist level up to 100' + 10' per alchemist level (expertise in pyrite sublimation creates more purified activator)

· (2) Scifres Enervating Respiration - this necromatic potion is stored in ceramic jars painted black, topped with a wooden handle. They break easily upon impact, and release a cloud of noxious fumes that decay the lungs causing severe breathing impairments, loss of vision and disorientation.

· (2) Mask of Living Death - Scifres discovered the instructions for this salve in the Mascontin Mines south of Verbobonc. It is a white powdery paste applied to the face that conceals the aura of the living from lesser undead.

· (2) Unblemished Regeneration - regenerates 2d6 hp at 2hp per round.

· (2) Spectral Form - This clear glass potion is milky white, with strong sweet smells and flavors. Imbiber immediately assumes a ghostly form that can pass through small cracks and apparate across gaps up to 20'. All gear falls to the ground.

· (3) Consumption Neutralizer - Scifres devised this potion to allow multiple potions to be consumed in rapid succession. It reduces the chance of volatile mixing effects by 50% for combining 2 potions, 25% for 3 potions, and 10% for 4 potions.

· (3) Conspicuous Regeneration - 3d6 hp at 3 hp per round.

· (3) Breath of Necrosis - a thick gooey sap that is applied to the interior of the mouth and blown, dispersing a horrid cloud of supernatural wilting rot. Living tissue rots and decays instantaneously, causing 1d6 dmg per level to creatures in the cone of dispersion (save vs breath weapon for 1/2).

· (4) Chitinous Armor of Aldiajarkan - A skin of thick chitinous scales grows painfully from the imbibers skin, and absorbs physical damage before being chipped and torn away. Will absorb 10hp per level.

· (4) Wraith Form - Like the spectral form potion, but black and seething, with thick black fumes emanating from the container. Imbiber immediately assumes a sub-ethereal state, retaining his posessions, and gaining immunity to normal/non silver weapons.

· (4) Magnificent Regeneration - 4d6 hp at 4 hp per round

· (5) Phenomenal Regeneration - 5d6 hp at 5 hp per round

· (6) Demonic Filcher - a greusome looking flask of thick frosted glass with something dark squirming inside, bound with iron and marked with protective wards and odd symbols. A command word deactivates the wards when thrown, and upon impact fills a 10' -15' area with enormous, writhing black tentackles that grapple and rend creatures within reach. If a creature is grappled, they are pulled underground and left to suffocate. Works best on sandy and dirt ground, but will function (albiet slightly less effective) on stone. Will only grapple on metal surfaces.

· (7) Scifres Ghastly Transformation - a horrible, twisted concoction that grants the imbiber horrific powers commonly seen among the walking dead. The creature is granted DR, AC bonus, increased HP, paralyzing attacks and is subject to the will of the potion's creator. "

I've told Reagan he ought to start his own blog, I'd love to read his play reports. It sounds like he runs one heck of a game.

I'd also like to ask if any of you readers out there in the blogosphere have used the Alchaemist, or facets of the class in your own game. I'm always interested in feedback.

And thanks again to Reagan and his players! It's very gratifying to see fellow gamers having fun with stuff I've cooked up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Welcome to Wyrd Greyhawk! We'll all laugh about your ignominious death.

I haven’t actually posted anything about my game world before because it’s Greyhawk, and I figured everyone is already familiar with it. I’ve realized though, that everybody’s Greyhawk is different. And alot of gamers have no experience of Greyhawk at all.
Weird, huh?
It sort of took me aback the first time I ran into a dismissal of Greyhawk as “vanilla fantasy”, and poorly detailed. My Greyhawk is based on the original World of Greyhawk Folio, and I had always just assumed that everyone understood that the world was only sketchily described because you, the DM, are supposed to make up and fill in your game world as you need, and as you like.
Apparently, this isn’t so. I’ve gathered from the forums and game blogs that there is an expectation that contemporary game product should be, “plug and play”. No tinkering or house ruling required or allowed. A product is considered incomplete if every possible situation isn’t nailed down in the rules.
This strikes me as one of those disconnects between Old Guard thought and New School. I like to make stuff up. I like to build things and figure them out at my leisure. I’d much rather buy the tools I need to create something on my own than pick up a turn-key version already finished. You learn something when you do it yourself.

Anyway, I’ve never actually written out all the things I’ve done to Greyhawk over the years. My version mostly just exists in my head, or in scattered notes in binders.

I’ve decided though, to at least write an outline, or a set of points, that detail the differences and changes I’ve made, and those I plan to make in the future. I’ve picked up a lot of great ideas from the blogs and forums and I look forward to trying them out. This is really to help me pull together just what I’m going to do for the next campaign.

I’m preparing to get a game together in the near future and relaunch the Greyhawk campaign with a reconstituted game group. I think getting this down in one document will help me focus on the spirit of the World of Greyhawk I want to convey. This is just a draft of the general idea, not a complete description. I don’t think that’s even possible.

I’m calling my iteration, Wyrd Greyhawk, cause we’re all a pack of doomed, laughing bastards anyway. Eat, drink, and be Gary! For tomorrow we die!

Wyrd Greyhawk is mediaevalesque pulp sword and sorcery. Imagine it as Arthurian myth, the tales of Charlemagne, and the Canterbury Tales, as rewritten and expanded on by Fritz Lieber, Clarke Ashton Smith, and R.E.Howard. In the private library of a disreputable tavern, while smoking black lotus from a bejeweled hookah, and drinking absinthe from elf-skull cups, with smoky eyed dancing girls languidly twirling about the room.
And H.P.Lovecraft sitting on a pile of black silk cushions in the corner playing a sitar.

My sense of humor is dark and earthy, and so is my sense of drama. Stuff happens in my games that you know you’re a bad person for laughing about.

The core of the world is solidly medieval European, with themes and situations from Sword&Sorcery, Weird Tales/Pulp fiction, real world ancient history, Lost World stories, dark fairy stories, and others layered on top.

Player characters are not super-human Heroes, but average Joes. Maybe they have a bit more skill, or talent, or luck, than usual. They’re desperate, or idealistic, or greedy, or excluded, or otherwise unwilling or unable to plow, or march, or forge, or serve their betters.
For one reason or another, they’re at least partially outside the bounds of society and must make their own way in the world.
Black humor is at the heart of the game. The odds are stacked heavily against the PCs and they know it. Humanity and its allies are beset on all sides by inimical races, monsters, and gods. Plagues, war, and famine stalk the Flaness.
They aren’t destined for greatness, though they may attempt to carve their way to it. If that’s what they’re after. It’s really up to their own actions, and the dice. They might make you a king; they might say you die in a pit.


* Magic is rare. It is weird, feared, and not a technology stand-in. Magic-users are few and far between. No crystal ball TVs, no magic streetlights, no wizardly freezers. There are no magic shops. There’s not a snowballs chance in hell that anyone is going to sell genuine magic weapons, spells, or items from a storefront. PCs might be able to work out a trade with an NPC in possession of a magic item they desire, but it won’t be cheap, and it’s unlikely that mere gold will be sufficient to purchase magic outright.
* There are no magic schools. Arcane knowledge is guarded and shared by the powerful practitioners of the art only with their own apprentices and followers. Great wizards accumulate apprentices and followers and hangers-on. These may be thought of as members of a particular school of magic, centered on the theories of that particular mage, but there are no classes or diplomas.
* The city of Greyhawk has an area known informally as, “The Sorcerer’s Quarter”, where many of the cities powerful magic-users have their homes, but, there is no giant pyramidal School of Wizardry. I always hated that thing.
* I’m writing a version of Trollsmyth and Malisjewski’s Secondary Powers and Residual Effects for spells. I think it’s a brilliant idea that helps drive home the weird and fearsome nature of magic use. Magic-users are manipulating the very fabric of reality by casting spells, and that kind of power is not free of consequences.
* I think that I may work up a sanity risk table to associate with spell use of levels above 3rd. Maybe something like Call of Cthulu has. I may extend the risks of magic use to include those who spend a lot of time with the magic-user, like fellow party members.

* Religion

I’m including all the published gods of Greyhawk in the setting. No Norse, or Greek, or other pantheons though. I’m including real world approaches to the gods to make religion a bit more true to life though.
* People create hyphenated, or composite deities to serve cultural or political needs. As the Egyptians had Atum-Ra, so there might be a Pelor-Pholtus, or a Boccob-Celestian
There’s always the problem of having a pantheon of deities underlying the monotheistic structure of the Cleric Class, which as you all know, was built on the archetype of the Christian crusading priest. And also, to hold Sir Fang in check. To address this, I’m adding the religion of The One God, a belief system which holds that all the gods of the various Greyhawk pantheons are in fact, each facets or faces of a single creator god. Worshipers of the One God view all other gods as valid, but incomplete, manifestations of the One God.
This will take care of the players who want a classic, crusading cleric, while keeping the pagan flavored pantheonic cleric as well.
All religions have factions and theological hair-splitters, so, there’s also the worshipers of the True God, who view all other gods as false, or demonic. Some of them are open-minded and philosophic about their beliefs and some are militant and intolerant.

* I’m also including the Cthulu mythos under both their own, and alternate names. They won’t be worshiped openly, at least not by humanity. But behind closed doors in degenerate backwaters, and in guarded dungeons in the great cities.
“IA! IA!”. My kuo-toa are Deep Ones.

I haven’t assigned areas of influence yet, but the flavor and style of worship of every god and pantheon will vary widely from place to place. There is no guarantee that worshipers of god X in one location will agree, or get along with worshipers of god X from another location. They might not even be of the same alignment.
Also, whether standard, composite, monotheistic, or pantheistic, all clerics classes will be able to cast clerical spells. The true nature of the gods can never be known, and no one can point to the ability to call on divine magic as proof of their religions validity, as all clerics are capable of doing so.
There isn’t going to be any final truth about whose view of religion is correct that the PCs can ever uncover.
The unknown is at the heart of the game.

* Expanded Timeline

The chronology of historical events in the gazetteer covers a space of 1122 years. It begins with the start of the Baklunish-Suel wars in 5031 by the Suel calendar and ends at 6091, or 576 Common year.
The Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire are marked at 5094, Suel calendar. 1003 years Before Present,(publication of the Greyhawk Gazetteer).
Pulp sword&sorcery is built on ancient empires and forgotten kingdoms, prehistoric races and monsters of the unknown past. I really want the Suel Empire to be my ancient empire of evil sorcery, Hyperborean, Melnibonean, Stygian in feeling. So, I’m pushing the Rain of Colorless Fire way back a few thousand years.
I’m assuming that Gary meant the Suel Empire to play a somewhat analogous role to the Roman Empire, as far as the history of the Flaness is concerned.

The commonly accepted date for the end of the Roman Empire is A.D. 476. If the end of the Suel Empire is meant to overlay that, and you add the 1003 year span to take us to the publication date of the Gazetteer, that would bring us to a real world date of 1479, and knowing Gary’s preference for a high renaissance setting for his own Greyhawk, I have to think this isn’t coincidental.

I came to D&D from literature and not wargaming though, and 1000 years just isn’t enough time for me to feel the sense of really ancient history that I want the Suel Empire to evoke.

So, in Wyrd Greyhawk, 5094 is the date of the fall of the Oeridian Empire instead. The Oeridian Empire is going to be my Rome analogue. The end of the Suel Empire in the Rain of Colorless Fire takes place thousands of years earlier. In the aftermath and migrations into the Flaness, the Oeridians founded their own empire. It stands for two thousand years, and then disintegrates due to continued invasions by the Knor in 5094 where we pick up the standard timeline. This makes the Great Kingdom of the Aerdy a lesser imitation of the Oeridian Empire. Something like the Holy Roman Empire was to the actual Roman Empire.

The Knor are my stand-ins for the Saxons, Goths, Franks, and other Germanic Tribes which finally overwhelmed Rome. In Wyrd Greyhawk, they’re suel tribes who move down from the north and destroy the Oeridian Empire after 300 years of migrations and wars.
By the time of publication of the Gazetteer, they’ve largely assimilated with the conquered peoples and no longer strongly identify with the Thillonrian Suel.

* I’m also making the Thillonrian peninsula the original home of the Suel. It never made sense to me to have the survivors of the Suel Empire make their way there and then suddenly abandon all their ancient culture in favor of viking-like barbarism.
In Wyrd Greyhawk, tribes of ancient suel sailed from their ancestral home in the Thillonrian peninsula many thousands of years ago, and dispersed across the Oerth. One group founded the kingdom in the south that would later become the Suel Empire. Others vanished to known history.

This frees up the Frost, Snow, and Ice barbarians from the Suel Empire baggage, and gives me the option of inserting new history as it occurs to me.

* I think I’m going to flavor the Baklunish countries, Ket, Tusmit, and Ekbir, with some Empire of the Petal Throne Seasoning. I’m not sure exactly how yet, but they always seemed a little flat to me.
A dash of Tekumel ought to spice them up.

This up coming campaign will kick off prior to the Greyhawk Wars. I’ll eventually do some version of the wars, but I think I’ll hold off on that until the party makes it to End Game stage.
There will be no Rary the Traitor, or Vecna knockoff rubbing out the Circle of Eight. That was just silly.


Alignment is treated as a generalization. I’m not getting rid of it; it’s a good method of shorthand for basic behaviors. No alignment languages though, I don’t see a need that thieves cant, or arcane speech, or soldiers argot doesn’t fill. Players don’t know the alignments of each others characters, that stays between the player and the DM.
A cleric PC who casts Know Alignment is unlikely to share the knowledge gained other than vaguely. The Cleric’s player is not allowed to pass the information to other players, only hint.

Technological level

I think that in a world with many competing races, plus monsters, war, plagues, gods, and demons that the constant strife would result in migrating areas of Dark Age and renaissance. Technological advancement depends on the persistent transmission of accumulated knowledge over time, from one generation to the next.
Wyrd Greyhawk has no printing presses, and magic is not used to bring learning to the masses. Wizards are generally unsharing sorts. Save for the personal teachings of the friars of Delleb. With knowledge only transmitted directly from master or teacher to student, or apprentice, or journeyman, any break in the chain results in the loss of information and skills. The learned, the skilled, the knowledgeable, get killed in wars, or eaten by monsters, or die of plague, and civilization must rediscover, or recreate what has been lost, over and over again.
So, the default maximum level of technology tops out at about 1350 AD Europe in the greatest cities, an average level of 1100-1200 AD in the towns, villages and hamlets, and an iron age base in the hinterlands.
Plate mail is the greatest protection normally possible, and it’s not common. Full plate armor is nearly unheard of. Only the elves and dwarves have the skill and knowledge for complex armor, and even they don’t make a lot of it.

Societal Changes

As with technological level, the ever present threat of humanoids, monsters, magic, war, plagues, etc, has an effect on the mostly feudal governments of Wyrd Greyhawk’s perpetual middle ages.
The structure of society is both altered and reinforced. Even mediocre Lords, Chieftains, or Kings enjoy the loyalty of their subjects, so long as order and a degree of security are maintained.

The recurring destruction and disruption of villages, towns, and cities results in a permanent underclass of wanderers, refugees, and dispossessed. These people migrate in search of new homes and opportunities, outside of the normal feudal structure of most kingdoms.
They are generally referred to as the Unfettered, as they have no masters or lords. Adventurers often come from the ranks of the Unfettered.
The fame and riches that a successful adventurer may acquire may result in greater than normal social mobility, both upwardly, and downwardly.
A lord whose castle is sacked, and whose land is overrun, may also sink to the level of the Unfettered and take his chances as a soldier of fortune.
A dirt poor swineherd whose pigs are devoured by wargs may also become unfettered and take his chances on adventure.
Life with perpetual near-disaster tends to make both rulers and ruled more accepting of their inferiors and superiors. People still desire advancement, since advancement equals greater security, but in general, there is less friction between the classes than was the norm in actual history. Nothing unifies the in-group like Threats from Outside.


Slavery is prevalent in many areas of the flaness, but not quite the majority. Those areas without slavery are usually the ones where the common man has a fair amount of power. Slave labor devalues the work of free men and puts them at a disadvantage. Lands such as the Yeomanry stoutly oppose slave holding.
Bringing slaves into non-slaveholding land is viewed with distaste and discouraged, but only the Theocracy of the Pale automatically declares slaves in its territory to be freed.
The city of Greyhawk looks the other way concerning outlanders bringing small numbers of personal slaves within its domain. Only convicted criminals may be enslaved in areas controlled by the city.
The Elves
The elves are weird. They hale from the Otherworld. The Otherworld is contiguous with Greyhawk, meaning entering it at one point, traveling across it and exiting it at another point will bring you out in an analogous point on the face of Greyhawk.
It exists in the same space as Greyhawk, but not the same dimension, as it were.
The Otherworld is a fey Greyhawk, where the elves are dominate and men are few in number.
There, the elves are their true selves and far more powerful than they are in Greyhawk.
For various reasons, they choose to spend time in Greyhawk and the longer they stay, the lesser they become.
PC elves are always the standard "lesser" game elf.
This is the hollow world at the center of Greyhawk. There unknown races built eldrich and ancient civilizations eons before the surface was populated.
It has had many names, but known now by the name given it by the last to discover it, explorers from the Suel Empire.

This is as much as I’ve got for tonight, just off the top of my head. I’m going to keep posting my ideas for Wyrd Greyhawk as they form up.
I think I’ll pick out some more atmospheric art for posting too. A picture is worth a thousand random tables, you know.
Picture credits:
Top pic is from a king arthur tale and the artist is unknown to me.
second pic is the Darrel Sweet cover for Poul Anderson's Three Hearts and Three Lions.
Usually Sweet is a bit to cartoony for me, but I like this one, and Three Hearts and Three Lions is often sited by Gygax as one of the foundational books that inspiration for D&D was drawn from.
Third pic is Jeff Jones, the Son of the Bear God. Rockin, eh?
Fouth pic is called Tyranny of the Night and I think the artist's name is Raymond, not certain on that.
Fifth pic is The Wizard, by Don Maitz. You might recall it on the cover of Dragon magazine long ago. I love Maitz's stuff, You have to see a large version of this to really see all the detail in it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Spontaneous Generation allows the Weird Mythic Underground and Gygaxian Naturalism to play nice together.

Spontaneous Generation is the theory that life can arise spontaneously from non-living inanimate matter, or that one form of life may be generated by another unrelated form.

The classic example is the notion that dead meat itself creates maggots spontaneously. Other forms of the theory allow for life to arise from lifeless matter by the power of the sun, by the "Vital Heat" contained within all matter, or by many other igniting factors.

The early natural philosophers held that by natural trials of combinations of parts of spontaneously arising animals, successful combinations had formed the species that they saw around them, and that the unsuccessful combinations had failed to reproduce.

A sort of unnatural selection. Heh...

This theory held from Aristotle until well into the 18th century before being finally pushed aside.

In my own Greyhawk, Spontaneous Generation is a fact. It is also modified, and altered, and distorted by the existence of magic, the will of the Gods, the meddling of infernal intruders, malignant emanations from the underworld, or the black spaces between the stars, and DM Fiat.

This is how I justify to myself the existence of so many monsters and sentient races on a single world. It is in the nature of Greyhawk itself to constantly churn out new life forms. Most of them are only single examples, and fail to found a species. These are my Monsters, with the capital M.
The creatures that do manage to continue themselves with offspring become the regular monsters, (little m), and other creatures of the gameworld.

I've got a little list here of modifying factors which influence the likelihood of any particular corpse spontaneously generating a new living thing.
This isn't a hard and fast rule, I may just say, "It is so!". It is always fun to roll some dice though, since you never know what'll happen.

Whenever something dies in the game, I check to see if there's a chance of a new creature being spontaneously generated. These percentages are cumulative.

* If the creature was killed directly by magic, +5% chance.
* If the deceased was a user of, a creature of, or actively employing magic at time of death, +5%
* If the body lies in an area either sacred or profane, +5%
* If the deceased creature had powers of regeneration, +5%
* There is a 1% chance of spontaneous generation for every hit die, or experience level of the deceased.

If a spontaneous generation does occur, there is a 75% chance that it results in ordinary insects or vermin. (75 or below on a 2d10)
There is a 10% chance of normal animals of a higher sort. (76-85 on a 2d10)
There is a 10% chance of the newly generated life being any sort of standard monster native to the area. (86-95 on a 2d10)
There is a 5% chance of the spontaneously generated creature being a new Monster. This may be an altered version of the deceased creature, or something completely unrelated.

This new Monster may or may not be able to breed with other creatures to found it's own line. That's up to you.

As an example, lets just say that Gneerg the goblin footman of the Vampire lord is slain along with his master by our band of intrepid adventurers.

Lets say Gneerg got himself zapped by the same lightening bolt that did in his Master. And also maybe sprayed with vampire blood and ichor. Just after downing an invisibility potion in an attempt to escape.

If the dice are feeling generous, or if you just decide it will be so, this combination of factors causes the spontaneous generation of an altered goblinoid some few weeks later.
Maybe it's an adult to begin with, or maybe it starts as a grub and metamorphoses into a larger creature later.
I think in this case, the spontaneous goblinoid will have vampiric abilities, and to make it weird, I'll have the nails of it's hands become long hollow fang-like blood syphons.
Maybe this thing is just a one-off, maybe it reproduces and becomes a pox on the gameworld.

This is just a thing I like to do to maintain some feeling of verisimilitude to the natural world of the game setting, while still allowing for the existence of the weird and freakish.
It also lets me keep everyone on their toes. It codes into the rules the idea that the DM is totally within his rights to throw unknowns at the players.

Just as Greyhawk is selecting for the best possible monsters to inhabit the game world, it's also deselecting the player characters who fail to show the survival traits needed in a worthy adventurer.

Survival of the Fittest just cracks me up.

*edit, that pic at the top is a clip from a larger Richard Corben illustration from 1971, fyi.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What If?! Jack Kirby played D&D!

It would look like this!

Some where, out there, in the depths of the Multiverse, there is an alternate reality where Gary Gygax was best buds with Jack "The King" Kirby!

In that wondrous world, True Believers, Kirby illustrated Dungeons & Dragons with all the majesty and hallucinatory phantasmagoric wonderment that only he was capable of!

Consider well, oh my brothers, (and Timeshadows), the mind expanding force of fantastic illustration, and think on what might have been the path of Dungeons & Dragons had this exotic world been ours!

I'm a bit punchy tonight. please forgive my hyperbolic hyperbole.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What you need is a good night's sleep.

Much concerned with the arcane science of prophetic dream and soporic augury, Somnour the Dossarde had constructed for his own use, this bedstead of the finest craftsmanship and materials. He then laid upon it many subtle charms and magniks whereby he increased both the power of his dream magic, and the clarity of his nocturnal vagaries.

The greater part of Somnour's magic, including his book, the Incunabulum Noctum of dream spells and the Phantastic Bedclothes, as well as the Comforting Blankets, and the Abjurative Sheet, were all lost in the unexplained planar disjunction which rolled across the Bleak March forty years in the past.

Only the Restful Bed is known for certain to have survived that woeful occurrence. It had been disassembled and packed for it's relocation to Somnour's new summer tower, and was three leagues to the south on the Borlem road when the Disjunction transfigured the pine barrens of the Bleak March.

Magic-users and Clerics who cast divinitory magic just before falling asleep in the Restful Bed will have the power and clarity of their magic augmented by the enchantments of the bed.

Spells such as Augury, Divination,and Commune, will act as though cast by a cleric of three levels of experience higher. Locate Object and Find the Path will result in the asked for knowledge coming to the caster in a dream. Range limits are disregarded.

Magic-user spells are similarly enhanced by the magic of the Restful Bed. Comprehend Languages will be made permanent by the bed. Message will send the magic-users thoughts to any other sleeping person. A magic-user who casts Sleep on himself while lying in the Restful Bed will arise after eight hours with no further need of sleep for three days per level. Esp will allow the caster to witness the dreams of others who sleep within one mile of the bed. Clairaudiance and Clairvoyance convey their information in a dream state and without range limits.

The Dungeon Master may rule on in what way similar magics will be affected by the power of the Restful Bed.

Those who have been wounded will heal at thrice the normal rate so long as they sleep in the bed.

Characters of any class who have been confounded by a conundrum of any sort, may "sleep on it", upon the Restful Bed. Those who roll equal to, or below their Wisdom score on a d20, will awake with new insight into the problem. The Dungeon Master is free to offer however much of the solution to the PC's problem that he sees fit.

When the Restful Bed is found, it may have either been reassembled in a new location, or else, it remains disassembled in it's traveling crate. The bed must be complete and correctly assembled to function. It consists of a foot board, head board, side rails, rope netting, mattress, canopy, and shroud. No part of the bed may be missing or damaged for it to work it's dream magic.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How I learned to stop worrying and love the dice.

Some little while ago, there was a thread on Dragonsfoot started by a gamer who came from Wotc D&D, but wanted very desperately to like AD&D. The flavor and feeling of Old School gaming was very appealing to him, but he was having difficultly getting a handle on the rules eccentricities and the differing gaming philosophy at the heart of early TSR D&D. The thread was about how to address his frustrations with the facets of AD&D that seemed irrational and counter-intuitive to his 3E senses.
It was a very interesting thread, and the stalwarts of Dragonsfoot were mostly helpful and generous, counter to the image that I often see bandied about the web concerning Old School Grogs.
I'm going to quote my own response in that thread here. It seemed to me that most of the problems the opening poster was having in adjusting to AD&D had to do with the different expectations that the two schools of gaming thought bring to the table. Old School's acceptance of free-wheeling, and loose game mechanisms vs New School's desire for tight, and precise rules that are capable of standing on their own without the hand of the DM to hold them together.

Don't take this as 3E bashing, I don't really care enough to attack the game. AD&D is my baby, and I just look to other games to help me define and discover by contrast, just what it is that brings me joy about it.

This is what I said on Dragonsfoot about how to come at AD&D vs 3E.

"AD&D, and OD&D, I see as something like a suit of armor. Many different pieces that must be worn together and guided by the DM to function as a complete system. Each sub-system of the game ties loosely to the others, but depends on the DM to keep the whole thing together and moving.
This bothered me as a kid player, I wanted that unified mechanic phantom that everybody chases after. I wanted it to always, "make sense". The thing is, this is not possible, there is no way to cover all possible contingencies in a set of rules that neatly tie together and don't cover 10,000 pages.
Unified mechanical resolution of every possible scenario is a perpetual motion machine. It is not achievable. AD&D, and OD&D can cover all possibilities because they do not attempt to define them.
You, the DM, are the "unified mechanic" , you inhabit the rules, you wear them, and pick and choose which ones to employ and at which times in a way that is most congenial to the shape of the game you run. I think this is the core of the disconnect between old and new schools of thought.
New school appears to see the rules of the game as the game itself. It wants the game to be a self contained thing that stands on it's own without guidance and can be picked up and turned on and played and always turns out a perfect game.
Old school, as I perceive it, considers the game rules as a set of tools. The rules are hammers and wrenches, paint and brushes, chisels and saws. I use the rules to make the game as I go along. The game is created as it is played, by the choices the DM makes in how to use the rules, and the choices the players make in reacting to them.

Well, that's how I do it, anyway. Heh... "

Now, I don't think I'd change any of what I said in that post, but I think that what I was really thinking about was the difference in accepting the idea of abstract conflict resolution rules vs the idea of defined conflict resolution rules.
I'm pro TSR D&D because of the abstract nature of the rules. I think this is the very heart of the disconnect in approaches between the schools. As I said above, as a kid I wanted the strict yes or no approach to every situation in the game. I thought there was a problem if the rules didn't cover something.
But you can't cover everything in an RPG. We're simulating life and death in a fantasy world, not moving counters on a board. You just can't ever write a complete set of rules to deal with all possibilities, because the possibilities are infinite.
Abstraction in the rules is absolutely necessary to allow the Game Master to address unexpected and unplanned for situations, and those situations are exactly what give the game life.
This is what allows The Game to be the fantastic mind trip that it is at it's best. When you hammer down every last play option by hard wiring the rules to dictate that you must make the optimal choice or fail, you're not enhancing play, you're ensuring that it will be less than it can be.

At least, that's what I think. I'm going to go have some cake now. Buh-bye.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stargate SG-1 as latter day Sword & Planet.

Here is the cast shot for the first season of Stargate SG-1. SG-1 has become one of my top favorite Science Fiction tv shows of all time. At first, I didn't pay it any attention when it came on.
I saw the original Stargate movie in the theater, and though I thought it was a solid, B sci-fi movie, I didn't think it was great.
It was built of standard science fiction themes and ideas. An ancient alien transportation device, aliens built the pyramids, secret military base hiding alien technology, grim and troubled military man, eager and innocent young scholarly type, etc...
The movie didn't break any new ground, or surprise me in any way, but it was enjoyable, and it had a visual style and cinematography that was attractive.

I liked it, but I didn't give it much though after it was over. When the tv series was announced, and I heard they picked Richard Dean Anderson, of MacGyver fame, I wasn't thrilled.
I gave up on MacGyver when the guys and I never could get any of his little jerry-rigged devices to work the way they did on the show. I also didn't like the character himself, that may just have been the 80's though.

I started watching Stargate SG-1 during it's third season, because my wife was a MacGyver fan and she insisted. I thought it was only fair, since I had managed to turn her into a fan of Star Trek, Deep Space Nine.

Anderson surprised me. His take on Jack O'Neill was subtle and nuanced and showed a much greater depth of talent than I had given him credit for. We went out and bought the first three seasons on DVD, and then each succeeding season as soon as it was available.

The point of this post is that I see many themes in common between SG-1 and the Sword & Planet style of science fantasy exemplified by Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars series, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and many others.
Since this sort of fiction is a part of the pulp and fantasy fiction that colors the origins of The Game, I want to draw it to your attention.
SG-1 can be a mine of good ideas that you can apply to your own Sword & Planet campaign, as well as being a fun and imagination inspiring show in and of itself.

Sword & Planet almost always has a displaced Earth man, somehow transported to, and lost on, an alien world, confronted by alien monsters and strange cultures. The hero must face weird dangers and struggle to understand alien technology while fighting to survive in an unknown world.
Usually, the hero first fights, and then befriends a warlike alien fighter, who becomes his boon companion. There is often an academic, or scholar who provides technical assistance and knowledge, and a beautiful alien princess who fights by his side and provides the love interest for the story.

SG-1 gives this a contemporary treatment.
The hero, Jack O'neill, is part of a team instead of a lone figure. Teal'c, the Jaffa warrior and former First Prime of the System Lord Apophis fills the role of the boon companion. Samantha Carter is both the scientist and the beautiful princess at the same time. She is both Dr Zarchov and Dejah Thoris at once. Daniel Jackson is a combination of the scholar, and the kid side kick who often precipitates events with his rash actions.

Instead of being stuck on a single alien world, SG-1 visits many different worlds. Each one can present different threats and adventures, with the ultimate threat of the System Lords hanging over all.
SG-1 goes home after each adventure, resetting the show for the next one. It's nearly a serialized approach, like Buck Rogers, and also similar to the original Star Trek.

You can see this as similar to the many different cultures Flash Gordon encounters on Mongo, with the Goa'uld taking the place of Ming the Merciless. Or the various peoples of Barsoom that John Carter has to face.

Stargate went on to develop a mythos that's nearly as large and complex as that of Star Trek. It's a possible game universe that has endless possibilities. Nearly immortal aliens posing as gods spread humanity across the galaxy for thousands of years. Hundred of different human cultures from different times isolated and allowed to change to fit their new worlds. Incomprehensible and otherworldly technologies, inscrutable alien races, A DM could do just about anything with this.

The show runners and writers never really took this as far as they could have. I don't really know if they even realized the parallels between what they were doing and Sword & Planet fiction.
Once Anderson lost interest and pulled a Duchovny in season eight, SG- started to lose it's way quickly. Season eight was the first one we didn't run right out and buy, but when seasons nine and ten came along, they made eight look like Shakespeare in the park.

I liked Stargate Atlantis, but it never quite found it's feet. The whole thing just never quite seemed to gell. Once they started recycling and reimagining SG-1's old foes instead of breaking new ground, it got predictable fast.

The current show, Stargate Universe, is in a word, dreadful. They've taken all the worst elements of mainstream kiddy drama and combined them with the the most off-putting parts of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. It has that nauseating reality tv camera work, a constant dreary grimness, and a shipload of unsympathetic, disfunctional characters who just seem to wack up against each other in an unending orgy of selfishness and short sightedness.

I really like the Ancient ship itself though, and the Stargate on board is very nice. It looks like a first generation version of the SG-1 stargate.
That's about all that's good about Stargate Universe though. I will note that the standard issue kid genius isn't totally repugnant, as far as characters go. I don't remember his name.

I saw a few of the game books that where put out for the Stargate SG-1 rpg, but I never got to actually read them. They were priced at over 40 bucks a book at the time, and I didn't buy them. I'm not sure what sort of system they used, and I don't think that system is really as important as the idea and the feel in this case.
There really aren't any elements of the show that haven't appeared in other fiction or rpgs. A Stargate game would really be more a matter of theme and flavor than specific rules for the most part.

If any of you are fans of the show, what system would you use to run an SG-1 game?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Enough whining about DMs! What do you want from your Players?

There just sometimes seems to be no end of the carping and bitching and whining about DMs exercising their Gary-given powers. It's the Authoritarian DM, or the Adversarial DM, or the Viking-hat DM, or the Killer DM. DM fiat is abhorred as unbalanced and "deprotagonizing".
If you see someone actually use the term deprotagonize, grab your dice and run. Those people are black holes of gaming, from which no fun can escape.

I think that I can fairly assume that if you're reading a blog on the internet about out of print Dungeons & Dragons, that you're probably a DM

So, what is it that you want from your players?

It's great if you have players who'll bring snacks, or help set up, or clean up after. But that's just what you want from any guest. The thing I want most from players, in game, is for them to ask me questions.

Ask lots of questions, about the NPCs, about the buildings, about the horses, about the road, about the doors, about the walls, about the tavern keeper, about the moneylender, about the halfling hanging in an iron cage at the crossroads. If I don't have something written down, I'll make it up, right then.

It's not going to throw off my story, because I'm not fricken telling a story. I've got no idea what the heck's going to happen next. I'm not running an improvisational theater troupe. Dice come with the game for a reason.

Each question asked adds to the reality of the game world. Each one contributes some new, tiny bit of knowledge that reinforces the sense of immersion that I want to build.
Especially the inconsequential little things. The stuff that doesn't directly effect play is just as important as the things that do.

This is a Role Playing Game, and not just a combat simulator. The world has to have depth, it has to breath. And, if you can describe that breath as sour, and ragged, and drawn through stained snaggle teeth, it's ten times better than just counting the number per round.

I want to hear questions because it indicates a level of investment in the game. People who are just phoning it in, and just sit there waiting to be spoon fed warm, pre-chewed adventure piss me off. I expect engagement in my players.

I think the second thing I really want is for every player to be willing to play along with every other player.
There's lots of different play styles out there. Thespians, Strategists, Hackers, Game players, what have you. It's nearly arguing about pin-dancing angels to try and define them all, so I don't.

The thing I want is for each player at the table to recognize that they have a preferred style, and so do the others. I want them to make allowances for each other, and play like a team. Not necessarily an in-game team like a tactical assault squad, but like a group of experienced players of any sport who realize that everyone has something they're best at, and lets that player shine when the opportunity arises.

I will create at least the possibility of situations arising which play to the strong suites of the styles of everybody at the table. I want everyone to have a chance to get what they want out of the game, and I want the players to do their part to make sure this happens as well.

I think of this as the, "humor the Bard rule".

Do unto others, gentlemen. And let the good times roll.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Unexpurgated Dragon Generator.

A while ago, I posted the D6 version of my Random Dragon Generator. This is the full-size version, along with an example dragon. As I said before, I make a distinction between, monsters, (species in the Gygaxian Naturalism tradition), and MONSTERS, (unnatural unique creatures which don't have to follow the rules of Nature). I employ both in my own Greyhawk, and my players can never be certain just what the hell they're up against in any given encounter. It adds spice to the game and checks the over confidence that leads to complacency and boredom.
Dragons especially seem to get over-defined in the game. Ancient and medieval dragons were extremely varied in form. Like elves and goblins and such in myth, they were rarely described in the same way consistently.
A randomly generated dragon will bring to your game some of that fear of the unknown which was the norm for people before the reign of technology.

The Random Unique Dragon Generator.

roll 1d6
1. Animal
2. Low
3. Average *
4. Very
5. Highly
6. Genius
* If intelligence is greater than Average, there is a 20% chance of some form of madness. If so, roll on Mental Disorder Sub-table.

There is only a 20% chance the dragons alignment will be any form of Good. Roll 2d10 first, and then roll 1d8. Only if indicated by the percentile roll, can the dragon’s alignment be a Good one.
1. Lawful Good
2. Lawful Evil
3. Neutral Good
4. Neutral
5. Neutral Evil
6. Chaotic Good
7. Chaotic Evil
8. Alignment subject to change. Re-roll per encounter

roll 1d8
1. Very Young. 1 hit point per die.
2. Young. 2 hit points per die.
3. Sub-adult. 3 hit points per die.
4. Young adult. 4 hit points per die.
5. Adult. 5 hit points per die.
6. Old. 6 hit points per die.
7. Very old. 7 hit points per die.
8. Ancient. 8 hit points per die.

roll 1d6. The size list is very general, it is open to interpretation by the DM.
1. S (smaller than man-size, up to 140 lbs)
2. M (man-size, up to 300 lbs)
3. L (larger than man-size, up to 12 feet, 1000 lbs)
4. H (huge, up to 20 feet, 2000 lbs)
5. G (giant, up to 35 feet, 3500 lbs)
6. E (enormous, up to 55 feet, 5000 lbs)

Armor Class.
roll 1d8
1. Ac 8
2. Ac 6
3. Ac 4
4. Ac 2
5. Ac 0
6. Ac -1
7. Ac -2
8. Ac -3

Hit Dice.
roll 1d8
1. 4-6 hit dice
2. 5-7 hit dice
3. 6-8 hit dice
4. 7-9 hit dice
5. 8-10 hit dice
6. 9-12 hit dice
7. 10-13 hit dice
8. 11-14 hit dice

Move: On the ground/flying
roll 1d6
1. 6/18
2. 10/10
3. 12/24
4. 9/24
5. 9/30
6. 12/30

Number of attacks per round.
roll 1d6
1. 1 APR
2. 2 APR
3. 2 APR
4. 3 APR
5. 3 APR
6. 4 APR

Damage per attack.
roll 1d6 (Roll as many times as indicated by # of attacks per round)
1. 1-4
2. 1-6
3. 1-8
4. 1-10
5. 1-12
6. 2-12

Breath Weapon.
roll 1d8
1. No breath weapon
2. Fire. (as red dragon)
3. Cold. (as white dragon)
4. Acid. (as black dragon)
5. Poison Gas. (as green dragon)
6. Lightening. (as blue dragon)
7-8. Unique breath weapon. (roll on Unique Breath Weapon table)

Unique Breath Weapon.
Roll 1d10
1. Spittle ball causes random polymorph to those hit.
2. Laughing gas, save vs dragon breath or be rendered defenseless due to convulsions of laughter. (gas attack has same dimensions as green dragon toxic gas breath weapon)
3. Roar/cone of sound, does 1-8 points of damage per hit die, and causes permanent deafness to those failing save.
4. Dragon vomits forth a gusher of stinging insects. 1-4 points of damage per hit die, plus save vs poison or be immobilized with pain for a number of rounds equal to the dragons hit dice.
5. Breath becomes "Web" as per the spell.
6. A gust of "Sleep" fumes as per the spell.
7. A glob of protoplasm which transforms into a random monster under the dragon’s control.
8. Breath disintegrates metal. Only magic items may attempt to save.
9. Giant wad of phlegm which will glue victims to surfaces or to each other. The dragon will direct it at the highest concentration of foes. Alcohol will dissolve the phlegm in three rounds.
10. Hurricane force wind. Failure to save results in targets being dashed against closest obstruction. Calculate as falling damage.

Special Defenses. ( 2 in 6, or 35% chance of possessing.)
roll 1d10
1. Only hit by magic weapons.
2. Anti-magic field, 5' radius.
3. Chameleon, treat as elven cloak.
4. Constantly sheds caltrop-like scales. Unless characters have a dexterity greater than 14, they have a 20% chance per round of stepping on a shed scale and taking 2 points of damage when within twenty feet of the dragon.
5. Dragon is perpetually enveloped in fire. Coming within melee range causes 1-4 points of damage per round.
6. Miasmal fog surrounds the dragon. Anyone closing to melee range must save or contract random disease.
7. Dragon regenerates as does a troll.
8. Dragon is constantly coated in frost. Immune to cold-based attacks and anyone coming withing melee range must save or be frost-bitten for 1-4 points of damage a single time.
9. Dragon blinks as does a Blink Dog.
10. Dragon’s blood is poisonous. If wounded by an edged weapon, the attacker must save vs poison.

Special Attacks. ( 2 in 6, or 35% chance of possessing.)
roll 1d10
1. Dragon has claws of sharpness. On a natural twenty, the victim of the dragons claw attack will have a random limb severed.
2. Dragon Speech. Those hearing the dragon speak must save or be charmed and become the dragons staunch supporters.
3. Frog tongue. The dragon can attack as would a Cave Fisher.
4. Tail spines as a Manticore.
5. Gaze weapon causes diametric alignment shift. Treat as a Medusa’s gaze attack.
6. Dragon sprays caustic urine causing 2-12 points of damage and painful blistering.
7. A slap of the dragon’s tongue will cause madness. Target must save or be stricken with a random mental illness.
8. Dragon’s wings are edged with bony serrations. It may slash for 1-8 points of damage at targets twice as far away as normal melee range.
9. Dragon may speak a minor curse once per day. Example; "May you never wield a sword again!" The curse will hold until lifted by a cleric.
10. Dragon’s tail ends in a bone club. When stuck against the ground, or other hard surface, the bone club will shatter, hurling shrapnel in all directions. Those struck will take 1-6 points of damage. The club regrows within a day.

Special Abilities. ( 2 in 6, or 35% chance of possessing.)
roll 1d10
1. Dragon burrows as a Bullette
2. Dragon travels distances greater than 100 feet via natural Dimension Door.
3. Dragon possesses lernaean regeneration abilities. If it loses a head, or limb, it will regrow two to replace it within 1-4 rounds if the stump is not burned with fire.
4. The dragon may climb surfaces as would a giant gecko.
5. The dragon sprays a musk which will attract wandering monsters until removed by rubbing with pumpkin flesh. Every subsequent wandering monster check will result in an encounter.
6. The dragon is an oracle and may foretell events if persuaded.
7. As a displacer beast, the dragon always appears to be 3 feet from it’s actual position. This adds two points to it’s saving throws, and subtracts 2 points from opponents attack rolls.
8. The dragon has the ability to mimic the form of anyone it has recently observed. Treat as a doppleganger.
9. The dragon can see and strike ethereal and astral creatures, and those using magic to transport themselves to those planes.
10. Undead must obey the dragon. It cannot create, or summon them, but any encountered must heed it’s commands.

General Characteristics.
The dragon’s dominate features are generally:
roll 1d8
1. Mammalian. Bare flesh, or fur. The dragon exhibits qualities which are, cat-like, bearish, wolf-like, etc...
2. Reptilian. Scaled or pebbled hide. The dragon is serpent-like, crocodilian or dinosaurian.
3. Amphibian. Smooth and slimy skin. The dragon is salamander-like, or frogish.
4. Avian. Feathered and/or beaked and taloned. The dragon is somewhat bird-like.
5. Unnaturally monstrous. The dragon may not be native to this plane. It’s form may be difficult to discern, or may not be set. The dragon may be only partially material.
6. Construct. The dragon is a made thing. It may be like a flesh golum or built of unliving materials.
7. Humanoid dragon. The general form of the dragon’s body is similar to that of a man. Or, it may have human-like features, eyes, hands, a human like mouth, etc...
8. Amalgamation. Roll twice on this table and combine results to make a dragon which is truly bizarre.

General Form.
roll 1d20
1. Serpentine, no limbs.
2. Serpentine, winged
3. Serpentine, forelimbs only.
4. Serpentine, forelimbs and wings.
5. Serpentine, four legs only.
6. Serpentine, four legs and wings.
7. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs only.
8. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs and wings.
9. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs and fore arms.
10. Serpentine, bipedal rear legs, fore arms, and wings
11. Traditional heavy bodied dragon with four limbs and wings.
12. Bipedal, carnosaur-like.
13. Bipedal, carnosaur-like with wings.
14. Traditional heavy bodied dragon, four limbs only.
15. Multi-legged, six limbs or more.
16. Multi-legged, six limbs or more and winged
17. Multi-legged, one hundred limbs or more.
18. The dragon’s form changes after each encounter. Re-roll for beginning form.
19. The dragon lacks limbs. paws, claws, or hands attach directly to the body.
20. Head and body as one, no neck. Bipedal, long tail, no fore arms or wings.

Primary and Secondary colors.
Roll 1d8 twice for colors, Choose scheme or pattern as you like. (Spots, stripes, blotches, solids, etc...)
1. Black
2. White.
3. Red.
4. Green.
5. Blue.
6. Yellow.
7. Brown.
8. Grey.

% in lair.
roll 1d6.
1. 10%
2. 20%
3. 30%
4. 40%
5. 50%
6. 60%

Chance of Speaking/Magic-use/Sleeping
roll 1d6
1. 30%/10%/50%
2. 60%/30%/30%
3. 30%/30%/50%
4. 45%/40%/40%
5. 75%/40%/20%
6. 100%/100%/5%

Purpose or Obsession.
The thing which drives the dragons actions.
roll 1d12
1. Arcanovore. The dragon devours magic items, spell books, and spell casters.
2. The dragon lusts to accumulate treasure.
3. The dragon must eat sentient creatures.
4. The dragon loves music and collects musicians who must play for it’s enjoyment until they die.
5. Bibliophile. The dragon hoards knowledge. If it captures books which it cannot itself, read, it will search for persons who can be forced to read to it.
6. The dragon exists to foul pure wells and water sources.
7. The dragon collects maidens. It may or may not eat them.
8. The dragon destroys temples and priests regardless of alignment.
9. The dragon is obsessed with colorful fish.
10. The dragon always seeks to expand it’s personal desolation.
11. The dragon is zealously attempting to found it’s own religion, centered on the worship of itself.
12. Fighting is the dragon’s raison d’etre. It always seeks to match itself to the greatest possible foes.

Allies or Minions.
There is only a 25% chance the dragon will have either.
If so, roll 1d10
1. A second, lesser dragon of a standard type.
2. A second, lesser Randomly generated dragon.
3. A thrall monster. (roll on appropriate random wilderness encounter table.)
4. A non-dragon mate. The Random Unique Dragon is a Monster and capable of breeding with any other creature.
5. The dragon functions as the Local Lord. Roll for a group of fighters of the dominate area race.
6. The dragon is venerated by the locals. It will be defended by it’s Zealots who will sacrifice offenders to their "god".
7. The Local Lord placates the dragon by regular human sacrifices. He will prevent anyone upsetting the arrangement.
8. The dragons actions serve the purposes of a minor infernal power. There is a 20% chance that it may send demonic assistance if the dragon is hard pressed.
9. A famous dragon-slayer opposes any who would attempt to destroy the dragon before him.
10. The dragon is in-fact, an agent of, or controlled by, a neighboring power of the lands it is despoiling. Destroying it may upset plans the PCs know nothing about, and gain them the attention of powers of which they are unaware.

The dragon generated by these lists may have apparent contradictions. The DM may re-roll attributes which cause conflicts, or he may come up with creative rationalizations which smooth out stat conflicts.
Many of the randomly generated statistics will require the DM to come up with plausible back-stories or justifications for exactly why the dragon is as it is, and why it does as it does. This, fleshing out of the dragon is nearly as much fun for the DM as it is when he gets to see the over confident PCs first encounter the Unique Dragon.

There is no promise that the randomly generated dragon will be a level-appropriate foe for the party. It could easily outmatch them, and it could just as easily be a push-over. The fun part is, they don't know which it is. The beast's size and appearance can be totally at odds with it's actual ability to deal out death.

An example dragon, Slurgorth, the Beast of the Black Vale. Rolled up with out any fudging of the dice, so help me Gary.

Intelligence: Highly intelligent. (I rolled a 5, and a 15% on the chance for mental problems, under the 20% required. Slurgorth has some form of insanity.)

Alignment: Subject to change, re-roll at each encounter. ( I rolled an 8 and re-rolled a 4, so, Slurgorth starts with a Neutral alignment.)

Age: Sub-adult, 3 hit points per die. ( rolled a 3, so Slurgorth is not as old and formidable as he might otherwise be.)

Size: L. ( I rolled a 3, so I’m going to make him maximum for the class, 12 feet long, and 1000 lbs.)

Armor class: -3. ( I rolled an 8, so Slurgorth is very difficult to hit and damage.)

Hit dice: 4-6. ( I rolled a 1, so Slurgorth dosen’t have as many hit dice as he might. I therefore go for the max allowed, 6 hit dice. This gives him 18 hit points at his age. Not a lot, but his high AC will compensate for this.)

Move: 6/18. ( I rolled a 1 again, Slurgorth moves slowly on the ground and flys heavily through the air.)

Attacks per round: 2 attacks per round. ( Rolled a 3, Slurgorth is slow enough that he doesn’t get two claws and a bite in the same round.)

Damage/attacks: 1-10/1-8. ( I rolled a 4, and a 3, Slurgorth’s clawed fore arms are more dangerous than his relatively weak bite.)

Breath weapon: ( I rolled an 8, indicating a unique breath weapon.)

Unique Breath Weapon: Slurgorth can expel a spittle ball which causes those struck to undergo a random polymorph. Roll on reincarnation tables to determine new form. Victim may save vs dragon breath to make the transformation temporary. As with standard breath weapons, this may be used three times per day.

Special defenses: nil. ( There is only a 35% chance of the dragon possessing special defenses, and I rolled above that, so nothing for Slurgorth.)

Special attacks: Slurgorth’s wings are edged with bony serrations. He may slash at targets twice normal melee range distant for 1-8 points of damage. This means he may attack first in the first round of melee regardless of initiative. ( I rolled a 10%, under the 35% required for Special attacks, and then an 8 for the wing serrations.)

Special abilities: nil. (I rolled above the 35% chance to possess special abilities.)

General characteristics. Amalgamation, Amphibian and Unnaturally Monstrous. ( I rolled an 8 and got amalgamation, and then a 3 and a 5. I decide that Slurgorth is a salamander-like thing from the outer dark, possibly brought here to this world accidentally. )

General Form: Serpentine and bipedal, with long taloned fore arms and wings. ( I rolled and got a 10. Slurgorth walks in a powerful, but shambling gait on it’s long hind legs. It’s terrible forearms hang nearly to the ground and it’s long flexible back allows it to quickly turn and attack in any direction. It’s mucous coated wings lie flat against it’s back when not in use. It’s pale and lamp-like eyes goggle about in search of victims.)

Colors: Slurgorth is a glistening black and mottled with a random pattern of brown speckling. ( I rolled a 1 for primary color, and a 7 for secondary.)

% in lair: 50% ( I rolled a 5, Slurgorth spends much time in it’s foul lair, contemplating it’s hopes for future malevolence. )

Chance of Speaking/Magic-use/Sleeping: 75% chance of speaking, 40% chance of magic-use, 20% chance of sleeping. (I rolled a 5. Slurgorth may or may not speak, quite possibly can use magic, and is rarely to be caught sleeping.)

Purpose or Obsessions: Arcanovore, Slurgorth compulsively devours anything with the scent of magic upon it, or them. It hopes that if it absorbs enough magical potential, it may be able to force a door to it’s place of origin. Perhaps to return home, or perhaps to bring others into this world. ( I rolled a 1.)

Allies or Minions: nil. ( I rolled above the 25% possibility that the dragon could have any allies.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Alchaemist. A magic-user subclass for AD&D/OSRIC.

The Alchaemist, a magic-user subclass for AD&D.

The Alchaemists are those magic-users who specialize in the practice of Alchaemancy, that branch of magic which is concerned with discovering, understanding, and activating the magical potential which is inherent in all natural materials and living things. In fact, in some lands, the term Alchaemancer is used in place of the more commonly given name, Alchaemist.

Rather than engaging in spellcraft directly, Alchaemists create Alchaemical Formulae. These formulae are complex instructions, often presented in allegorical, or pictographic forms, for the compounding, mixing, distillation, brewing, or otherwise preparing of potions, powders, oils, balms, salves, and other ingestable and applicable mediums which serve to store and convey magic.

The alchaemist’s painstaking and careful approach to magic, emphasizing reproducible procedure and orderly methodology, often sets ill with the more individualistic will-workers and arcanists. Wizardly and Sorcerous magic-users often look down on Alchaemists as mere artisans to their artists. For their part, alchaemists view standard magic-users as sloppy and perhaps, somewhat primative.

Alchaemical formulas are just as well-guarded, rare, and sought after as are the spells of wizards and other magic-users. Alchaemists must create, or search for these ancient and forgotten instructions which make their particular discipline of magic possible. Likewise, an alchaemist must search for, buy, beg, borrow, or steal, the precious ingredients and reagents that make up the material components of their potions and powders.

An Alchaemist lucky enough to find one of these formulas must inscribe it into his Alchaemical manual. The manual is a book much like a magic-users spell book. Alchaemical formulae are spell-like in that they will slip from the mind and be lost if not written down. The alchaemical manual is a necessary reference for the alchaemist in his potion making. Alchaemical formulae are divided into levels of power in the same manner as spells.

An alchaemist may learn and cast cantrips and first level spells as any magic-user might, but may not learn spells of any higher level. An alchaemist who also learns a standard magic-user spell gives up the ability to create a potion of equal level. The spell takes up the same amount of concentration which the execution of an alchaemical formula would. Standard spells will require the alchaemist to keep a spell book in addition to his alchaemical manual.

An alchaemist may not wear armor.

An alchaemist may carry a small shield.

Weapons available to the alchaemist include all those open to the magic-user, plus the short sword.

An alchaemist rolls 1d4 per level for hit points.

An alchaemist fights on the magic-user matrix. Note that though an alchaemist may carry a short sword and small shield, he will generally use them only in defense when all else has failed. The constant mixing, grinding and pounding required of a practicing alchaemist gives him greater physical competence than a standard magic-user, but, as he still fights as a magic-user, and rolls d4 hit points per level, hand to hand combat is not his forte.

The Alchaemist advances in level on the Magic-user's advancement table.

An alchaemist may use any magic item usable by standard magic-users except for magical staffs.

The number of alchaemical formulas which an alchaemist can execute in a day is equal to the number of spells a magic-user of the same level may memorize in a day.
Refer to the, Spells usable by Class and Level chart for magic-users.

An alchaemist may identify any potion with a single drop on the tongue. This is identification of the potion only, not understanding of it’s formulation.

Alchaemical potion making is not the same as that practiced by standard magic-users and alchemists. In order to create a specific potion, the alchaemist must possess the necessary alchaemical formula and follow it to the letter. Once the material components have been mixed and processed to readiness, the alchaemist must cast the spell, alchaemancy, on the mixture. This activates it’s magical power.
Alchaemancy is unavailable to non-alchaemist magic-users. Alchaemical knowledge is conveyed by a deeply esoteric and symbolic language, the meaning of which, no alchaemist will willingly share with a non-initiate of the craft.

A potion created by an alchaemist will retain it’s potency for one week per level of experience of the alchaemist if kept in a non-magical container. The same potion will retain it’s power permanently if contained within an Alchaemical Flask.

An Alchaemical Flask is defined as any container for liquids or solids, which has been specially constructed and enchanted to hold alchaemical magics. Such a flask must be made of the finest materials and will cost at least 500 gold pieces to make. An alchaemical flask may be reused so long as it is carefully washed with pure water before being refilled in order to prevent potion mixing. If this is not done, the potion miscibility tables must be consulted.

An alchaemist may create potions of up to the third level of formulation with the small equipment he is able to carry,"in the field". Alchaemical formulation of greater than third level will require the alchaemist to have access to a fully equipped laboratory and an assistant, or assistants. The workspace and equipment needed to perform the Greater Formulations will cost, at the least, 10,000 gold pieces.

The begining alchaemist is assumed to possess an alchaemical manual containing the alchaemancy spell as a parting gift from his teacher. He may also possess three other alchaemical formula of the first level, and a single potion in a non-magical container.

There are many schools of alchaemical philosophy. Each strives for certain goals. These schools are not exclusive, alchaemists may belong to more than one school, or to none, as their interests overlap.

Of the known schools, those who search for the Elixir of Life are most numerous. The Elixir is said to grant everlasting life, perfect health, and eternal youth to him who rediscovers it’s formula.
So powerful is the Elixir of Life, that it is said even to be able to lift the curse of unlife and bring a lich back from it’s deathless state to again become a living and breathing creature.
No existent alchaemist is known to have rediscovered the formula for the Elixir.

The second most numerous school of alchaemancers are those who search for the Philosopher’s Stone. This material is said to be able to transform base metals into precious ones. Though some seek it solely for the hope of worldly gain, this is not the only reason. The Philosopher’s stone can be used to separate and refine impurities from any material, and replace any material components required for wizardly spell casting. There are those who say that the substance of the Philosopher’s Stone is in fact, the stuff of elemental existence. That which was before the Gods called the universe into being.
It is also argued that in order to create the Elixir of Life, it is first necessary to discover the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone.
The truth of this is unknown to the alchaemists of today, and it is a great question which many diligently research.

Other associations of alchaemists search for answers to the questions which especially interest them. They bend their studies and expeditions towards the strengthening of metals, the improvement of crops, the making of glass, or any of hundreds of other small preoccupations.
These schools are in no way organized or sanctioning. They are simply associations of like-minded individuals who gather, often around a single alchaemist of great reputation, to discuss, argue, and share the knowledge they have gained, and rumors of where ancient and lost formulae may be rediscovered.

Here are suggestions for the first two levels of Alchaemical formulae. I’m leaving them fairly rough in outline. When I get a chance, I’ll post a complete set. But for now, this will serve as a place holder, and you mad do-it-yourselfers can just take this and run with it. Put down the scissors first.

Alchaemical Formulae

Alchaemical formulae are the written instructions by which an alchaemist creates his potions. The formulae are rare and sought after in the same manner in which a magic-users spells are.
The Dungeon Master is free to determine exactly how much detail he will require in his own game as to the type, nature, and availability of the material components which must go into the creation of a potion. Whatever level of definition is most congenial to the spirit of the game, from making the player character acquire rare and hard to find materials for each formula, to simply hand-waving the procedure, is for the Referee to decide.

Players who are susceptible to the lure of power gaming may attempt to turn an alchaemist into a power house or alchaemical grenadier. The savvy Dungeon Master may control such mischief makers by strictly tracking time in the game and requiring the player to keep accurate records of available potion components. As an alchaemist’s potions have a limited life-time, it is not possible for the Player to build too large of a back stock of magic. Additionally, The DM should consider creating a table to deal with the possible consequences of imbibing a potion that has past it’s prime.

The magics of alchaemical potions are more often linked to the vitality and level of the drinker than they are to the level of the alchaemist who made them. The personal power of the imbiber is a component of the potions magic, and thus, many of the potions listed here have their duration determined by the level of the drinker, and not by the level of the creating alchaemist.

First level Alchaemical Formulae.

Alchaemy is actually a spell, and not an alchaemical forumula. It is not, however, accessible to standard spell casters. Only alchaemists have the proper mind-set to understand and cast it.
The basis of the entire school of Alchaemical magic, Alchaemy is cast upon a potion, powder, oil, etc, after it has been newly mixed. This spell activates the magical potential inherent in the materials of the potion and gives it it’s power.

Discern Formulation
This spell is to alchaemy as Read Magic is to standard magic use. By drinking an entire dose of an unknown potion, and casting Discern Formulation immediately after, the alchaemist can learn the alchemical formulation necessary to recreate the unknown potion. The potion being discerned acts as the material component of the spell and does not take effect normally.
The new formula must be inscribed into the alchaemist’s manual within 4 turns or the knowledge will be lost. This does not give the alchaemist the ability to compound the formula if it is above his level of experience.

Flame belch
A flame belch potion will give the drinker the ability to belch forth a tongue of flame which will cause 2 points of damage per level of the imbiber. The flame belch will reach 4' per level of the drinker, and is likely to set fire to any combustibles it encounters.

Detect magic
This potion functions the same as the magic-user spell Detect Magic, save for it’s longer duration.
The drinker will be able to detect magic for 2 turns per level.

Animal Control
This is the same potion as the standard animal control potion listed in the AD&D DMG.

Charming Draught
As the spell, Charm Person.
The drinker of this potion may direct it’s enchantment at any one sentient creature. So long as the drinker treats the charmed creature as a comrade and goodfellow , the magic will stay in effect.

This is the same potion as listed in the AD&D DMG.

This is the same potion as listed in the AD&D DMG.

Enlarging potion
Similar to the spell Enlarge, save that it affects only the drinker. The potion will increase the size of a living creature by 25% per hit die or experience level. This change lasts for 1 turn per hit die, or experience level.

Summon Laboratory Assistant
Similar to the magic-user’s Find Familiar. The formula to summon a laboratory assistant is a dry concoction which is burned in a brazier, emitting a cloud of luminescent smoke. The cloud will dissipate after a time and a humanoid creature, eager to serve the alchaemist will arrive within two days time. The laboratory assistant will act as the alchaemist’s right hand man, running errands, preparing material components, or whatever else the alchaemist needs taken care of.

Prul’s eraser
A thick felt pad which is soaked in the alchaemical solution, the eraser will wipe away any form of writing or cartography from any surface. Even letters carved in stone, or graven on metal will be smoothed away by the magic of the eraser. One dose of the potion is good for a use that will clear a 10'x10' area.

Stone melt
Harmless to flesh, wood, metal, and glass, stone melt liquefies any type of stone it comes in contact with for a period of 6 turns. After that, the stone will revert to a solid in whatever form it has taken. A finger dipped in the stone melt can be used to inscribe words in stone.

Alchaemist’s glue
This thick yellow glue will bond any two substances together for 10 turns before dissipating into an acrid smoke. A Dispel Magic will dissolve the glue, otherwise, nothing short of a wish can separate the bonded items before the end of the potion’s duration. The glue is kept in it’s own pot, with a special brush to apply it. The formula creates enough glue for 4 uses.

When this potion is drunk, the individual may make one 20 foot leap per level of experience.

Confidant’s cordial
When two persons share a swig from a flask of the confidant’s cordial, Each will be able to speak softly under his breath, and the other will hear what is said, no matter the distance between them. A swig is good for two sentences, spoken and heard by each drinker. The formula creates enough cordial for six swigs.

The potion is contained within a clay sphere, and is hurled instead of drunk. When the sphere shatters, the potion vaporizes and rises as a cloud of fumes. All creatures within a 20' x 20' foot space centered on the broken sphere are affected as per the Sleep spell.

Shocking grasp
This potion acts as the magic-user spell, save that any contact with the drinker discharges the potions effects regardless of the drinker’s wishes.

Drinker must save or die. Poison must be ingested, it cannot be used to envenom a weapon.

Iron bane
This potion turns iron headed and edged weapons away from the drinker for 1 round per level of experience. An attacker with a magic weapon may save vs spell to attempt to hit, and then must roll the attack normally. Non-magical weapons with iron or steel parts may not be forced within melee range of the drinker for the potion’s duration. Iron in the drinker’s possession is not affected.

Silvery ward
A packet of greasy silver dust. Smeared on the forehead in an alchaemical symbol it functions as a Protection from Evil spell. It does not require a magic circle be drawn on the ground. So long as the bearer of a silvery ward does not act in a hostile manner, creatures of evil alignment may not approach within ten feet of them. A silvery ward lasts for 1 turn per level of the bearer. A packet contains three treatments.

Illuminator’s paste
Illuminator’s paste is a thick gray gel kept in a heavy waxed paper tube. Objects coated with the paste radiate Light as per the spell. A tube contains 4 treatments worth of paste.

Potion of Vocal Mimicry
Drinker may perfectly reproduce the voice of anyone he has recently heard speak. This effect lasts for 3 rounds per level of the drinker.

Smoke powder
When a hand full of smoke powder is cast down, it produces a flash and a thick cloud of grey smoke. The smoke obscures an area of 10x10 for 4 rounds. A bag of smoke powder holds 4 handfuls.

Second level alchaemical formulae.

Glamer dust
A powder which when blown into the air, simulates an audible glammer spell in a pre-set manner. The sounds the glamer dust emits may be any sound which the alchaemist has heard for himself. Men talking, a blast of trumpets, the roar of a dragon, and many other sounds have been captured in a straw of glamer dust. The formula produces enough dust for single straw’s full.

Perpetual phosphorescence
A non potable potion, sealed within a globe of clear, thick glass. It emits light as a continual light spell. The formula creates enough liquid for a single globe.

Curtain of Night
Poured on the floor in a ring, this potion will obscure the area inside the ring as a darkness spell would. A curtain of impenetrable blackness will rise from the floor and remain for 10 rounds before dissipating. Enough for a single use is made by the formula.

True Sight
For a duration of 1 turn per level of experience, a potion of true sight will allow the drinker to see invisible, or otherwise magically hidden creatures and objects.

Dew of Forgetfulness
Instead of being ingested, the dew of forgetfulness is used by dipping the fingers in it and flicking droplets in the target’s face. The target creature will then completely forget the events of the past ten minutes.

Thief-catcher’s paste
Spread thinly on objects or surfaces, the paste will act as Sovereign Glue only if touched by someone with larcenous intentions. Dispel Magic will dissolve the Thief-Catcher’s paste. The formula will create three treatments worth of paste.

Potion of Intelligence
Drinking this potion will increase the imbiber’s Intelligence score for 1 turn per level of experience.
Magic-user: 1d8 points
Cleric: 1d6 points
Thief: 1d6 points
Fighter: 1d4 points
Characters drinking the potion of intelligence may receive fresh insight into a problem they are facing. The player will be allowed to ask 1 question directly of the DM, in addition to whatever normal advantage would be conferred by the higher Intelligence score.
The Potion of Intelligence must be used with care. Each use after the first incurs a cumulative 5% chance of developing a mental disorder. If such happens, the DM must roll randomly to determine the malady.

Same as the spell, save that the potion is cast into the air towards the target, and becomes the web upon contact. The formula creates a single use amount of the potion.

Fearsome Gaze
Creatures who meet the eyes of the drinker must save vs spell, or flee in terror for 6 rounds. The magic of the potion is expended in a single use. The formula creates 3 doses of potion.

Coffin Breath
As the magic-user spell, Stinking Cloud, except that the drinker of the potion breathes forth the vile cloud of noxious fumes in the direction of his target. The formula creates enough potion for a single use. May discolor the teeth.

Similar to the magic-user’s Knock spell. No locked portal, chest, or container of any sort will withstand the drinker of a Rap potion. A soft tapping will cause anything which can be opened, to do so. A single dose of the potion enables the drinker to rap three times. The formula creates one dose.

Jester’s friend
This potion is not drunk, but spread or poured. It will make a 10'x10' area completely frictionless for a duration of 5 turns. No matter the material, stone, dirt, grass, carpet, etc, no creature will be able to stand or walk normally without falling. A creature who falls in the center of an area treated with the jester’s friend will be unable to escape the treated space if unable to reach beyond it’s area of effect.

Powdered Guidance
When cast into the air, and a directional, or locational question is asked, this glittery dust will briefly form an arrow pointing in the correct direction as it drifts to the floor. Questions must be a single, clear sentence. "Which way is least dangerous?" or " Which way lies the way out?" The formula creates enough guidance powder for three questions.